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“ her fine blue eyes might roll to him in secret,” but not for ever, a circumstance, by the by, which age, form, and feature, had rendered not very likely to happen, we were most vexatiously detained on the opposite side of the way by the custom-house officers, who, under a broiling sun, ransacked every article of our luggage; even the private recesses of the writing-desk were not sacred. The scrupulous fidelity with which they performed their duty, was, on this occasion, as, alas! on many others of more importance, the reason of our leaving virtue to be its own reward ; for, provoked with the trouble they caused us, we gave them nothing but black looks, and a few private inverted blessings.
We now began to reckon our stations by versts : a verst is about three quarters of an English mile, and is marked upon a post, painted like the bridge, somewhat resembling, only that the verst post is square and much taller, a barber's pole. The rapidity of our travelling, and the frequent appearance of these memorials of our velocity, were the only cheering circumstances that we met with. Upon the road we saw several peasants bare-headed, cropped, fair, with shorn beards, and booted. We met with little or no delay for horses: the peasant, to whom they belonged, attended us to take them back. After passing through a country the most wretched and rocky imaginable, a country formerly wrested by the Russians from the Swedes, in which the gloomy sterility of nature was only once relieved by the waterfalls which attracted our notice at Hagfors, and a large camp of several Russian regiments, who had a very fine appearance, we reached, at eleven o'clock at night, the drawbridge of Frederick. sham, the gates of which had been some time closed. After repeatedly knocking, a little beardless officer presented himself, and very politely requested to have our passports and post-order, with which he disappeared. Here we waited in suspense for three quarters of an hour: all owing to the provoking integrity and detention of the custom-house officer at the barrier. At length we heard some massy bolts move, the gates unfolded, and we entered the town through a long arch under the ramparts, and anxiously looked out for an hotel: it was then as light as the day, but as silent as the tomb. At length we halted before a house, which our little officer, as well as we could understand him, informed us was the only inn in the town. Here we found no person moving: after trying at the door for some time in vain, I peeped into the front room, and beheld a spectacle à la mode de Russe, to me completely novel ; it was a collection of nine or ten men and women all lying, with their cloaths on, promiscuously upon the floor, like pigs, heads and tails together. An officer passing by informed us that this was a private house, and that the inn, in Russ called a kabac, was the next door ; but that it was locked up and empty, the host having gone to enjoy the breezes of the sea-side for a few days. This circumstance plainly demonstrated one of two things; either that this part of Russia is not much frequented by travellers, or, as I frequently experienced, that an inn-keeper, however poor, is very indifferent whether he affords them any accommodation.
We had been travelling all day under a fervid sun, were covered with dust, and parched with thirst; our Abo ham was glowing to the bone, our last bottle of claret was as warm as milk from the cow, and our poor exhausted horses were licking the walls of an adjoining building to cool their tongues. In this dilemma I beheld an elegant young officer, uncovered, in a dark bottle-green uniform (the legionary colour of Russia), and an elderly gentleman, upon whose breast two resplendent stars shone, coming towards us: these stars were two propitious constellations. The principal personage addressed us in a very kind and conciliatory manner in French. Upon our explaining our situation, he said, “ I am very sorry this 6 fellow is out of the way, but it shall make no difference. When “ Englishmen enter Russia it is to experience hospitality, not in« convenience; trust to me, I will immediately provide for you:" he bowed, gave directions to an officer who followed at a distance, and passed on. This amiable man proved to be the count Meriandoff, the governor of Russian Finland, who, fortunately for us, had arrived about an hour before from Wibourg. An officer soon afterwards came to us, and conducted us to a very handsome house belonging to a Russian gentleman of fortune. Our kind host, who spoke a little English, introduced us into a spacious drawing-room, where we went to rest upon two delightful beds which were mounted upon chairs. Our poor servant, after the manner of the Russians, ranked no higher in our host's estimation than a faithful mastiff, and was left to make a bed of our great coats on the floor of the entry, and to sleep comme il plait à Dicu.
The next day we had a peep at the town, which is small but hand." some: from the square in which the guard-house stands, a building of brick stuccoed, and painted green and white, almost every street may be seen, It was here, in the year 1783, that Catherine II and Gustavus III had an interview. Upon this occasion, to impress the Swedish monarch with the magnificence of the Russian empire, and to render their intercourse less restrained, a temporary wooden palace was erected, containing a grand suite of rooms, and a theatre, by the order of the empress. The town appeared to be filled with military. The Russians of consequence generally despise a pedestrian. I was uncommonly struck with seeing officers going to the camp, and even the parade in the town, upon a droska, or, as they are called in Russ, a drojeka, an open carriage, mounted upon springs, and four little wheels, formed for holding two persons, who sit sideways, with their backs towards each other, upon a stuffed seat, frequently made of satin; the driver wore a long beard (which we now began to see upon every rustic face), a large coarse brown coat, fastened round the middle by a red sash, was booted, and sat in front, close to the horses' heels, whose pace was, as is usual in Russia, a full trot.
We here exchanged our Swedish money at Mr. Broom's, and found the exchange against us. After having been so long strangers to the sight of any coin, we were surprised by seeing his Russian clerk, habited in a long blue coat, fastened round the middle by a sash, enter the room, perspiring under the weight of a coarse bag of five-copec pieces, a monstrous coin, fit for some infantine republic, that might wish to excite a distaste for riches amongst her virtuous citizens, worth about three-pence English. It may be as well to run over the coin of the country now:
One-fourth of a copec, called a polushka, very few in circulation. One-half of a ccpec, called a denishka.
One copec. Two copecs. Five copecs. Ten copecs.
Five silver copec piece, rare.
The agio between silver and bank notes is now about twenty-five per cent.
A half imperial, worth five rubles.
The bills are for five, ten, twenty-five, fifty, and one hundred rubles.
The Russians calculate always by rubles. A ruble is now worth about two shillings and eight pence English.
A silver ruble is equal to a paper ruble and twenty-five copecs.
It is rather remarkable that the silver rubles, which were coined in the last and present reigns, have no impression of the heads of the last or present emperors.
RUSTIC URBANITY--WRETCHED VILLAGE-NO. 1.-WIBOURG.-GREEK
RELIGION-A CHARITY SERMON-RELIGION AND EXTORTION- A WORD OR TWO TO FORTIFIED TOWNS--STARVED HORSES.VOLUNTEER JACKET-APPEARANCE OF PETERSBURG-COSSAC-RENOWNED STATUE.
WHILST the peasants were adjusting our horses, four abreast to the carriage, in the yard of our kind and hospitable host, I was amused with seeing with what solemn and courteous bows the commonest Russians saluted each other; nothing but an airy dress and a light elastic step were wanting to rank them with the thoughtless, gay, and graceful creatures of the Boulevards des Italiens : here the Russian exterior was more decisively developed; but I should wish to postpone a more particular description of it until we reach the capital ; it is now sufficient to observe, that the men in complexion and sturdiness resembled the trunk of a tree, and that the women were remarkably ugly : I saw not a female nose which was not large and twisted, and the dress of the latter, so unlike their sex in other regions, was remarkable only for filth and raggedness. Travelling is very cheap in Russian Finland : we paid only two copecs for each horse per verst, except for the last post to Petersburg, when we paid five copecs. In Russian Finland the comfort of send ing an avant-courier to order horses ceases. On the road we met with several kibitkas, such as I have described.
After we left Uperla, those extraordinary detached rocks, and vast stones, which hitherto had lined the sides of the roads and were scattered over the fields, began to assume a redder tint, and to shew a greater portion of friability than their hard and savage brethren which we had left behind, anu gradually disappeared in deep sand : the country presented a scene of extreme wretchedness. To the squalid inhabitants we might have said in the beautiful language of Cowper :
Within th' enclosure of your rocks,
We halted at a village of old crazy hovels, composed of trunks of trees, rudely thrown across each other, and perched upon granite rocks ; every one of these forlorn abodes was out of the perpendicular, whilst, from a little hole which feebly admitted the light, the smoke issued. The inhabitants were nearly naked, and looked like a race of animals formed in the anger of heaven. Instead of the
green refreshing blade, parched hoary moss covered the earth ; where the limpid brook ought to have rippled, a narrow, slimy, brown stream of reeking offensive water crawled indolently and unwholesomely along. Not a tree was to be seen ; not even a melancholy fir! Time, that bids the barrenness of nature bear, that enables the shepherd and his flock to find shelter and rich pasture in the altered desert, has passed over these regions without shedding his accustomed beneficence. These people, or, as they are called, the Finns, I found always distinguishable in the capital from the proper Russian, by their squalid and loathsome appearance. Yet, even in this inhospitable spot are to be found what
many a traveller in England has frequently lamented the want of, viz. the exposition of every diverging road carefully, and intelligibly marked out by a directing post. Although the peasantry of the country, in these immediate parts, are so wretched, a considerable portion of